The Fascinating True Story Of Why Aviators Say “Roger That”

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Image: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You’ve heard the two words in dozens of war films. It was even parodied in the 1980 comic masterpiece Airplane! when Leslie Nielsen’s hapless Dr. Rumack got his Rogers in a tangle. But why is it that pilots and others speaking on two-way radios utter the phrase “Roger that”?

Image: GUILLERMO MUNOZ/AFP/Getty Images

“Roger that,” often shortened to simply “Roger” but sometimes elongated to “Roger, over and out” is part of the esoteric language used by pilots and others who communicate via radio. It’s often used in a military setting and simply means that the last message spoken has been received.

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Image: GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images

But why is Roger, a common man’s name, used? Going back to the origins of its usage, it was actually the word “received” that the pilot wanted to communicate in response to a message. But with Morse code, the earliest form of radio communication which we will come on to, it became simply the letter “R.” However, just saying “R” on voice radio is a lot less clear than saying “Roger.”

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